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Archive for Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Atom smasher a ‘Genesis machine’

March 31, 2010

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— The world’s largest atom smasher threw together minuscule particles racing at unheard of speeds in conditions simulating those just after the Big Bang — a success that kick-started a megabillion-dollar experiment that could one day explain how the universe began.

Scientists cheered Tuesday’s historic crash of two proton beams, which produced three times more energy than researchers had created before and marked a milestone for the $10 billion Large Hadron Collider.

“This is a huge step toward unraveling Genesis Chapter 1, Verse 1 — what happened in the beginning,” physicist Michio Kaku told The Associated Press.

“This is a Genesis machine. It’ll help to recreate the most glorious event in the history of the universe.”

Tuesday’s smashup transforms the 15-year-old collider from an engineering project in test phase to the world’s largest ongoing experiment, experts say. The crash that occurred on a subatomic scale is more about shaping our understanding of how the universe was created than immediate improvements to technology in our daily lives.

The power produced will ramp up even more in the future as scientists at the European Organization for Nuclear Research, or CERN, watch for elusive particles that have been more theorized than seen on Earth.

The consequences of finding those mysterious particles could “affect our conception of who we are in the universe,” said Kaku, co-founder of string field theory and author of the book “Physics of the Impossible.”

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